Q: What makes some birds "hawk bait"?

Many people struggle with keeping white pigeons either for their wife or children when they repeatedly lose them to hawks. A good friend of mine has a young bird team of about 80 birds and to date has lost 8 youngsters. His team contained 6 white grizzles -- all 6 of them are gone. So does the white color make the bird "hawk bait"? The answer is definitely "no".

Why is a hawk constantly hitting those birds and not the dark ones in the flock? Pigeons as well as other birds protect themselves from predators by flying in a flock. It makes it very difficult for a hawk or falcon to take a bird out of a flock. It is the confusion of the numbers that stops the hawk from making his kill, just like a hunter can get confused when a covey of quail scatter in front of him.

Now the only way to overcome the confusion for the hunter is to mentally lock in on one particular bird. Then he has a target to go after. It is the same with the birds of prey. They need to pick out a bird that is different in the flock. Quite often it is the hurt bird that has a different wing beat or some other oddity about it.

So if you have a flock of mostly dark colored pigeons, the hawk will zero in on that one or 2 that is white or a loud splash or a silver or whatever. But if you were to have a flock of white pigeons and a few dark ones mixed in with them, then guess what? Your dark ones would not be the survivors since they would be the minority or oddball bird that the hawk can focus on.

So if you would like to have white pigeons, you need to have a fairly good-sized group of them or even fly them by themselves for a while. In this way you will give them a lot of protection.